At Hindu protest, Latvia Culture Ministry asks Nat Opera possibility of "La Bayadère" exclusion

RIGA, Latvia - July 2, 2023 - PRLog -- Latvia Culture Ministry has addressed the Latvian National Opera and Ballet (LNOB) in Riga to look into the possibility of the exclusion of "La Bayadère" ballet from repertoire, after Hindus protested urging LNOB to drop this "culturally insensitive" ballet.

Elina Kalnakarkle, Senior Officer in Cultural Policy Department of Latvia Ministry of Culture, in an email to Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who spearheaded this protest, wrote: The Ministry has addressed the management of the LNOB a request to evaluate the impact of this ballet production on the audience and the possibility of its exclusion from repertoire.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, thanked Latvia Culture Ministry for understanding the concerns of Hindu community, which they felt seriously trivialized Eastern religious and other traditions. It is scheduled for performance on October 13 in Riga.

Rajan Zed had said that taxpayer-funded Latvian national institution like LNOB should not be in the business of callously promoting appropriation of traditions, elements and concepts of "others"; and ridiculing entire communities.

Zed had indicated that this deeply problematic ballet was just a blatant belittling of a rich civilization and exhibited 19th-century orientalist attitudes. He had also urged LNOB to apologize for such an inappropriate selection.

LNOB, said to be one of the most important cultural establishments in Latvia founded in 1918, should have shown some maturity before selecting a ballet like "La Bayadère" (The Temple Dancer) displaying Western caricaturing of Eastern heritage and abetting ethnic stereotyping, Rajan Zed had noted.

It was highly irresponsible for a national center like LNOB to choose such a ballet which had been blamed for patronizing flawed mishmash of orientalist stereotypes, dehumanizing cultural portrayal and misrepresentation, offensive and degrading elements, needless appropriation of cultural motifs, essentialism, shallow exoticism, caricaturing, etc. LNOB could do better than this to serve its diverse stakeholders; Zed had stated.

Rajan Zed had suggested LNOB Board Chairman Egils Silins, Chief Conductor Mārtiņš Ozoliņš, Artistic Director Aivars Leimanis to re-evaluate its systems and procedures and send its executives for cultural sensitivity training so that such an inappropriate stuff did not slip through in the future.

Moreover; Latvia Culture Ministry, led by Nauris Puntulis, should seriously rethink their relationship with LNOB if it continued with ballets like "La Bayadère" which trivialized traditions of "others"; Zed had emphasized.

Like many others, Hindus also consider ballet as one of the revered art forms which offers richness and depth. But we are well into the 21st century now, and outdated "La Bayadère", which was first presented in St. Petersburg (Russia) in 1877, is long overdue for permanent retirement from the world stage; Rajan Zed pointed out.
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